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Egyptian Venison Koufta and “Tarb”

Koufta is a dish found across the Middle East.  This style is Egyptian.  The spice amounts can be varied to suit your individual taste.

Ingredients

1 pound ground venison
3-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ tbsp. powdered allspice
1 tbsp. powdered cinnamon
½ tsp powdered cumin
1 egg
¼ cup water
Salt
Fresh ground pepper

Directions

Mix all ingredients well with your hands.  Form into small meatballs, and place in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Coat the meatballs with melted butter before cooking to enhance browning. Cook over medium heat on a charcoal grill, turning frequently to brown them, serve with pita bread and yogurt.

Tarb

If you really feel adventurous, have your hunter save the “caul” or omentum from the deer.  This is the fatty membrane that covers the internal organs.  Cut small squares of it and wrap the un-cooked kouftas in it before grilling.  The result is “tarb,” and it is even better than the koufta!  Omentum from a sheep can be used, and may be available from specialty butchers: in international grocery stores, ask for it as “tarb” at the meat counter.


Venison Adana Koufta

This is a Persian style dish, very different from the Egyptian style koufta above.

Ingredients

1 lb. ground venison
1 egg
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced 
1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt

Directions

1. Add the ingredients to a large bowl and, using your hands, mix everything together quickly, but thoroughly. Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the flavors combine and mixture set.

2. Remove the meat mix from the refrigerator and pull off a piece about the size of an egg. Form this tightly and evenly along the length of a flat skewer. (Try to find the widest, flattest skewers you can.) And if you don't have a flat skewer, you can form elongated patties, sort of like a flattened sausage. Repeat with the remaining mix.

3. Place the skewers over a medium-hot fire and grill, turning often, until the outside is a bit charred and the inside is cooked through. Serve with warm flat bread and zerzavat (recipe below).

Zerzavat

Ingredients

1 medium red onion, sliced thin
1 tsp. sumac
1/4 cup parsley, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. salt
4 lemon wedges


Venison Moussaka

Another dish found throughout the Middle East, this is a layered dish of eggplant, spiced meat, and a topping of béchamel sauce.

Ingredients

2-3 eggplants, cut into slices about ½” thick, salted, and left to “sweat” for half an hour or so.

1-1/2 pounds of ground venison
½ large onion or a whole medium size one (preferably Vidalia) chopped finely
1 tsp powdered allspice
1-1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon
1 tsp powdered cumin
1 egg
1 small can tomato sauce
Chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Directions

Mix the meat, onion, egg, and spices thoroughly.  Brown the mixture in a little olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet, over medium heat, stirring to keep it broken up.  Set aside when browned.

The slices of eggplant should be patted dry and then deep-fried in oil at 325-350° until brown on both sides. Put a layer of these slices on the bottom of a deep glass baking dish.

Return the meat mixture to the fire, add in the tomato paste, and stir thoroughly while cooking it, until the paste is completely incorporated.  Put the seasoned meat on top of the first layer of eggplant, and cover that with the rest of the eggplant.

Béchamel sauce is made by melting a stick of butter, and adding to it enough flour to make a thick paste.  Season this roux with salt and pepper. Then slowly add about a pint to a pint and a half of ½-and-1/2, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens: the more flour you use the thicker it will be.  You want it thick, but not solid: it should flow slowly.  Add chicken broth to the mixture and continue stirring to adjust the “flow.” 

Cover the top layer of eggplant evenly with the béchamel sauce.  Put a loose-fitting sheet of aluminum foil over the baking dish, and put the whole thing in the oven at 350° for an hour to an hour and a half.  Best to put a cookie sheet under it, as it may boil and spill stuff in the oven.

When fully cooked, remove the foil and carefully brown the top on a BROIL setting, watching it all the time to avoid burning.  Drain off any excess grease with a turkey baster.  Let the moussaka sit before serving to cool and set.

This dish is even better the next day after being refrigerated and reheated.  The entire thing can be assembled and held in the refrigerator until the following day before it’s baked.

Serve with a dry red wine: this is a very flavorful dish and needs wine with body.


KOREAN VENISON

 Korean flavors are based on soy sauce, garlic, ginger, green onions and sesame oil.  Gochujahng (go-chew-jang) is a hot pepper paste that is frequently added to create spicy dishes and soups.

Ingredients

Use the following ingredients for bulgogi marinade:

• 3 crushed garlic cloves 
• 1 teaspoon minced ginger 
• 1 chopped scallion 
• 1 small chopped onion 
• 1 sliced carrot (diagonal) 
• 1/4 cup soy sauce 
• 1/4 cup sugar 
• 1/4 cup sesame oil 
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
• 1/4 cup of water 
• 1 teaspoon honey (optional) 
• 1/2 cup crushed Korean pear (optional)

The flavor should be a combination of bright, salty and sweet.

Directions

Use a pound of venison steak and slice it thin. Mix the venison with marinade and let soak. a minimum of three hours—overnight is ideal. Grilli the venison bulgogi over charcoal. Serve with steamed rice and a salad … or with a variety of kimchee (kim-chee) and other Korean pickled vegetables. (Kimchee can be purchased at international grocery stores locally.)

Garnish the bulgogi with one teaspoon of sesame seeds. Hold a fresh lettuce leaf in your hand, add some bulgogi, a spoonful of rice and a small amount of gochujahng. Fold the lettuce into a tiny taco.

Bulgogi is also utilized in other Korean dishes such as bibimbap (bi-bim-bap) or japchae (chap-chey). Both dishes combine bulgogi and sautéed vegetables with either rice or glass noodles.


SQUIRREL WITH BLACK-EYED PEAS
For the Crock-pot: serves two

This recipe can be used with any small game animal, such as squirrels or rabbits. It will work with young groundhogs, too, if you cut them into pieces; an average groundhog, cleaned and dressed, is about the equivalent of four squirrels.  (Groundhogs over 6-7 pounds live weight are usually older animals that will require a lot of cooking to become tender enough to eat.)

Ingredients

Four medium-size squirrels, drawn, skinned, and cleaned
1/2 pound black-eyed peas
3 medium onions
2 small carrots
1/2 package frozen sweet peas
1/4 pound smoked link sausage
Flour
Bacon fat or lard
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken broth

Directions

Put the squirrels into salted water and hold overnight in the refrigerator; the next day, rinse and pat dry.

Bring 4-6 cups of water to vigorous boil in a large saucepan, then add the black-eyed peas to it.  Boil furiously for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and cover; hold 15 minutes and drain.  Quarter the squirrels, and dredge with flour.  Saute in a skillet in hot bacon fat or lard until golden brown, then drain on a paper towel and place in a crock-pot.  Chop the onions coarsely, and saute' in bacon fat and pan drippings until translucent, and add to the pot.  Cut the carrots into 3/4" lengths, and the sausage into 1/8" disks, then add them along with the frozen peas and the cooked blackeyed peas.  Salt and pepper to taste and stir gently; add the chicken broth and cook in the crock-pot for 8 hours on low setting, or until the meat is almost falling off the bones. For a different flavor, you can substitute lentils or navy beans for the black-eyed peas.

Don't know how to skin a squirrel? Click here to find out!
A movie by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries shows you how.


WARREN EASTLAND'S BIRD CURRY

From my friend Warren Eastland, who is lucky enough to be able to hunt upland birds.
I wish we had grouse around here...

This is one of the things that I do with grouse, quail, pheasant, or other light white meat. This recipe evolved from the Japanese curried rice that my mom used to make.  It isn't Japanese, and it isn't Indian, so that means it is fusion, which is another term to describe a goulash variant.  I am also a Type B cook, which is that I treat recipes like Democrats treat the Constitution; a general guideline at best, and something to be totally ignored if the whim strikes me.  One of the characteristics of Type B cooks is that measurements are a bit loose.  So, when I mention a spoon, I'm talking about the normal spoon you'd use to stir your coffee.

First there's the basic curry:

Heat a skillet to medium hot, with oil if you want, and toss in the onion, garlic, and the grouse pieces.  Stir it around until the edges of the onion start to brown.  Put that in a wide, deep, pot-cum-skillet along with all the other ingredients and pour in enough water to cover it all.

Those are the essentials for the basic sauce.  Then, depending on your likes, dislikes, and the contents of your refrigerator add
Bring it all to a boil, then turn it way down to a low, low simmer and let it cook for an hour or so.  I often start the preparation at 1600h and let it simmer until I'm ready for supper at 1800h; maybe an hour and half or so.  20 minutes, more or less before serving, depending on how mushy you like your rice, cook enough rice to serve as a base.  Back to the basic recipe here; the amounts of bird and veggies depend on how many people will be at the table, so that goes for the rice, too.  About 5 minutes before dinner time, bring the curry sauce to a full boil and thicken it with water-cornstarch.

Serve the sauce over the rice.  Notice that I didn't include salt in the sauce; that's because I like soy sauce and add the salt by pouring some soy sauce over top.

 


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